They gave a dinner for him. Martha served,
                  and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
         Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard,
                  anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.
         The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
         Jesus said, “She bought it
                  so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.”

                           —John 12.3-4, 7


The losses you have borne,
the hill of skulls yet to climb,
         he knows.


Around the table the twelve celebrate.
His thoughts are elsewhere,
         still weeping outside that tomb,
         already weeping in Gethsemane.


Grateful, she who has lost
         offers a fragrant gift.
Seeing, anoints him as a prophet.
Wounded, comes alongside,
         covers his feet with healing balm
         for the nails to come.
Bowing, brings perfume for his tomb.
         Does she already know
         she won’t need it then?


Accompanied in pain and humiliation,
blessed for what is to come,
he will know
         to wash their feet.


Death and healing mingle
in our journey
         that is not for ourselves.


Between death and death
the fragrance of self-giving
         fills our house.


The cup, the font, the basin
         have shadows deep as a grave,
         light bravely borne.


Before your harrowing journey
         a baptism of tears,
         gentle hands on your feet.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at)

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